Boeing to pass on more health care costs to nonunion workers

Boeing's 100,000 nonunion workers will pay more for their health care starting next year as the world's largest aerospace company tries to find savings.

Employees’ share of medical costs will rise from 11 percent, according to briefing documents reviewed by Bloomberg of a presentation to managers. While an amount hasn’t been set, it probably won’t be as much as the 30 percent average at peer companies, said spokeswoman Karen Forte.

“We’re definitely asking employees to step up and pitch in a little more,” Forte said Monday in an interview. “We’re still working through what those changes look like, but it’s not in Boeing culture to make such a huge change overnight.”

Boeing’s efforts to pass on more costs were among the triggers for a two-month strike by 27,000 Machinists union members in 2008. The final agreement with the labor group, Boeing’s biggest, didn’t include the increases the company had sought as medical inflation outstrips rising consumer prices.

Negotiators with Chicago-based Boeing will try again during contract talks with Machinists and engineers in 2012, Forte said.

“Competitive pressures within the business” and “additional cost pressures” expected in 2018 under the U.S. health care overhaul are driving the latest changes, according to the briefing documents.

Insurance premiums for family coverage rose 131 percent to $13,375 from 1999 through 2009, the Kaiser Family Foundation said last year.